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LUTHERAN 11 DAYS ISRAEL BEGINS HERE
DAY 1 – Monday – NEW YORK / TEL AVIV
Tour members are welcomed for our departing flight to Tel Aviv via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board. I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1).
DAY 2 – Tuesday – TEL AVIV/ EIN KAREM / BETHLEHEM
This morning we will arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our flight to Tel Aviv.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed , Blesed are you among women , and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1: 41-43)
After arrival procedures, we will drive up the Judean Hills passing Jerusalem en route to Bethlehem, stopping briefly at picturesque Ein Karem village, the birthplace of John the Baptist. We plan to visit the Church of Visitation (the Church of the Magnificat – Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55), and St. John’s Church before continuing south past Rachel’s Tomb to our hotel located in Bethlehem.
DAY 3 – Wednesday – BETHLEHEM REGION
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15).
After enjoying the wonderful hilltop view of Bethlehem we visit Solomon’s Pools, Jerusalem’s main source of water for almost 2,000 years. Passing the monastery of Hortus Conclusus (“the sealed garden”) in Artas, we continue to one of the traditional sites of the “Shepherds’ Fields.” Experience the contrast between shepherds and kings when we visit King Herod’s Summer Palace (Herodium). Back in Bethlehem we will walk through the old town to the Church of the Nativity and visit the manger and St Jerome’s Grotto. Then walk through the traditional Souq to the Lutheran Christmas Church and meet with Pastor Dr. Mitri Raheb, the acting pastor, acclaimed writer and director of Dar El Kalima consortium to discuss the Living Stones. Tour the college and the cultural center that he established in an effort to help meet the cultural and educational needs of the Palestinian community. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 4 – Thursday – BIBLICAL HEARTLAND
” He answered, “We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me in for the night. We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.” (Judges 19:18)
This morning we drive to West Jerusalem we shall visit the tomb of the prophet Samuel and view his hometown Ramah, and Gibeon where the Lord appeared to King Solomon before he built the Temple. Walk to a scenic view of the Ajalon Valley where Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to remain still before driving north through the Biblical heartland to Nablus (Schechem) and visit the mound where Joshua renewed the covenant. Stop at Jacob’s Well, site of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman and drive up to Mt. Gerizim to visit with the local Samaritans still practicing their faith. Continue north to Sebastia, where Philip the Deacon preached to such success that soon Peter and John joined him. Christians have venerated the tombs of St John the Baptist and the prophets Abdias and Elisens, located in this city, since the 4th century. In the village of Burqin, we find St. George’s Church, the fifth oldest sacred Christian place in the world, and the third oldest church. According to tradition, on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Burqin and cured 10 lepers. After passing through Jenin (the Canaanite village of Ein-Ganeem) we come to Harod’s Valley for a wonderful view filled with biblical history. Next we visit Beth Shean to climb the tel and survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, colonnaded streets. Drive north through the Jordan Valley brings us to the Sea of Galilee where we check into our hotel along the shores of the Sea of Galilee for the next 3 nights.
DAY 5 – Friday – A DAY AROUND THE SEA OF GALILEE
” They got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum…” ( John 6). After landing, “When he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside, and sat down” (Matt. 5:1).
Today is dedicated to touring the various important sites around the Sea of Galilee. First we shall drive to the Mount of Beatitudes for a visit, a few prayers and chance for pictures. Then drive down to Tabgha where the first feeding of the multitude took place. Continue to Capernaum where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter. We drive to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee and stop at Beth Saida, which is the fishing village of the Gospels, and home to Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:44). It was here that Jesus performed most of his miracles. After lunch we follow the eastern banks of the sea to Kursi where the miracle of the swine took place. Passing through Ein Gev we arrive back at the Jordan River and the modern Baptismal site of the Yardenit. Here we will have an opportunity to renew our Baptismal vows before we return to the hotel.
DAY 6 – Saturday – THE SOURCES OF JORDAN
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16).
We proceed towards the Golan Heights and start with a brief stop at Hazor, for a view of Mount Hermon and its surroundings. At Dan, we combine a nature walk beside the Upper Jordan with views of ancient ruins. At the spring of Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter confessed his recognition of Jesus as Christ we will visit the stunning remains of a first-century AD palace belonging to Agrippas II. We drive around Mt. Hermon for a glimpse of Damascus, then head back over the Golan Heights to our home on the Sea of Galilee. We end our day with an hour on the lake in a wooden boat modeled after the ones used in Jesus’ time.
DAY 7 – Sunday – WE ARE GOING UP TO JERUSALEM
“He will be called the Nazarene” ( Matthew 2:23 )
On our drive to Nazareth, we shall stop where Jesus performed his first miracle, the transformation of water into wine. We proceed to the top of Mt. Precipice for a panoramic view of the Jezreel with Mt. Tabor in the distance and the Carmel Range in the west. We shall spend the rest of the morning getting acquainted with Jesus’ home town, visiting its spring, where Mary would have done her family’s laundry, and walking through the present-day bazaar, over the site of the ancient village, to the Church of the Annunciation. We then drive to the mound of Megiddo, har megiddo in Hebrew, which gave its name to Armageddon, and ascend Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Drive south along the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea-by-the Sea. We enter the ancient harbor of Caesarea Maritima (once the Roman bridgehead to the East which became the Christian springboard to the West). Drive up the historic Beth Horon road to the Benjamin Plateau, passing ancient Gibeon before reaching Jerusalem. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 8 – Monday – O JERUSALEM
“…He saw the city and wept over it…”(Luke 19:41).
Today we will start on the Mt. of Olives with the Old City spread out before us. Descend the traditional Palm Sunday road to Dominus Flevit, remembering Jesus’ entry. At the Garden of Gethsemane we will have some quiet time to reflect. Continue through the Valley of Jehosafat to Dung Gate where we may descend the slope of the first Jerusalem (“City of David”) to the Gihon spring, and view the knee-high water through Hezekiah’s tunnel. Atop Mt Zion we enjoy the best views of early Jerusalem. Next we visit the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Israel Museum, including the outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD. We close the day at Yad Vashem – the Holocaust Memorial. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 9 – Tuesday – THE RIFT VALLEY
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ (Luke 4:1-4).
Drive east to Bethany (the home of Martha and Lazarus) and into through the Judean desert down into the Jordan Valley and to Jericho (visit the tell of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation). Continue to Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea to view the cave where the scrolls were found. At Masada take the cable car to the top, visiting Herod’s mountain bunker and the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-73 AD). After floating on the Dead Sea (at minus 1390 feet, as low as you’re ever likely to get), we enter the nature reserve of Ein Gedi, rich in flora and fauna, and walk to a lovely waterfall. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 10 – Wednesday – DAY IN THE OLD CITY
“He has Risen” (Mark 16:6)
Just inside the Dung Gate, we will examine the ruins by the Temple complex, where Jesus taught and He and his disciples walked. Walk to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. View the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. Close by are the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, which has been perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. Follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) back as far as the Holy Sepulcher. From there we walk through the Arab Souks, past the Armenian Quarter and exit the Old City through the Mt Zion Gate to visit the Upper Room and King David’s Tomb on the grounds of Mt. Zion. Return once again to the Garden Tomb where we end our journey tour with a special visit and the possibility of having a private service on its grounds.
DAY 11 – Thursday – LUTHERAN PRESENCE IN JERUSALEM / USA
After a leisurely breakfast we walk to the nearby Redeemer church for our own private service at the Crusader Chapel. We will have the opportunity to meet with Bishop Azar to hear further about the work of the Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Jordan. We then drive up to the Mt. of Olives to the compound of Augusta Victoria to witness to active work of the Lutheran World Federation in health and education. The rest of the Day is free. We get together for our farewell dinner before we transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for our late departure flight back home.
Lutheran Tour Holy Land Tour Christian Tours Israel Tour Packages